Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Charlotte's Cupcake Web

There I go again, stealing another title and altering it to suit my Blogger needs (Deb, could you tell it was me?). But, I couldn't help myself; it's an addiction that I'm not willing to break, especially when the line fit this post so perfectly (except for the fact that my name is not Charlotte).

This weekend, the movie version of the best-seller "The Secret Life of Bees" book came to life on the big screen. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to view it myself, but the previews made me think of another book to film flick.

"Charlotte's Web" was a childhood favorite of mine, one I've shared with my son in both the cartoon and live-action versions of the tale. The 2006 release starred Dakota Fanning, who also plays the main character in "The Secret Life of Bees" and was one of the topics in our Sunday dinner conversation about some of the funniest recent Saturday Night Live sketches.

But enough about Miss Fanning; let's talk about the real star of the literary classic. I'm referring to Charlotte herself, the tiny spider with a heart much larger than her size.

Spiders have gotten a bad rep over the years. I can recall many times catching and releasing them outside, as someone else stood up on a chair in fear of the less than palm-size creature. They may be small, but they are determined little buggers.

Just consider the familiar tune, "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." Jacob used it as a tool to learn rhyming words in school a few weeks back. Let me refresh your memory.

"The itsy bitsy spider
went up the waterspout,

Down came the rain
and washed the spider out,

Out came the sun
and dried up all the rain,

And the itsy bitsy spider
went up the spout again."

No wonder people fear them. They're like little Energizer bunnies; they keep going and going.

The fear factor is probably why they're also associated with Halloween, which is right around the corner. I guess I need to start cranking out some spooky treats like the nonraw cupcakes I brought home from work the other day. They were so cute that I had to rawifiy them as usual.

It was simple, starting out with a basic raw chocolate cake recipe. I used up my hazelnut and Brazil nut pulp leftover from making my frozen hot chocolate, along with some ground up almond flour.

The cake "batter," which was more like a crumb, was shaped into cupcakes and placed into festive liners. They looked so much like the real deal that my son couldn't wait to try one.

Then, I frosted them with leftover raw "whipped cream" I had whipped up as a topping for the frozen cocoa beverage. To make them look more colorful, I tinted the icing yellow, just like the original baked cupcakes.

Adding playful colors to your recipes is easy. Nature offers a whole spectrum of dyes from which to chose. For instance, green powders or liquid chlorophyll are great for making green, beets produce a vibrant fuchsia and turmeric will turn your food yellow. Let your imagination go wild.

The pale yellow cupcakes looked better suited for Easter, rather than Halloween, until I embellished them with chocolate webs. Jacob really enjoyed finishing off the excess chocolate from the piping bag.

He also had fun topping them off with some toy spiders. He even found a fake fly to put on one of them. This spider has its sights on it.

Just be careful when you go to eat these characters. Our toppers are not edible, and you know what happened to "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly."

"I know an old lady who swallowed a spider,
that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,

But I don't know why she swallowed the fly,

I guess she'll die."

Okay, so maybe that's a bit much. It just might cause a little indigestion. In other words, just stick to the cupcakes and their sweet icing. They taste much better than their decorations :-)